I Didn’t Even Like You

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You, with your false-advertising
big, soft eyes
like the cat on that ogre movie
who blinks slowly
attacks quickly
and a person never knows
what they’re dealing with.
You, who bullied the
other cats and even
the dogs
and guarded food bowls
like they were your own
personal
dragon’s gold.
Who thought the entire house was
your
territory
and marked it so,
till I threatened you with
pounds and other homes and
dark ends – and you
retaliated with fragrant
offerings under my bed.
And just when patience slid
howling to the depths,
purring, rubbing, fuzzy
grey innocence
pooled
itself in my lap,
or stood on my chest
trying to kiss me awake,
instinctively manipulating this
tangled ball of love-hate.
And I would have gladly
given you to a good home

until the vet said the words.

Even then, I couldn’t
abandon you,
even knowing all the
crap you pulled.
And in the end,
you still won, because
your last memories were

my hands
in your fluffy, falling-out, charcoal fur
salt water dripping on your face
and a mountain of tissues on the medical table.

I didn’t even like you.

-KJ Roe

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History in the Lines

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Spokes of the wagon wheel
now ghosts in a metal ring
Tales of travels told
left to rust in tangled weeds
Voice of experience
from which we take our leave
Close our eyes, numb our minds
Rewrite the chronicles
we don’t like to see

The lessons learned, lessons lost
In the bars on the windows
and the numbers on the charts
In the scuffed linoleum tiles
where one must pace the miles
In the creases of hands
grown clawed and still
In furrowed brow’s confusion
above eyes blank
with memory, discounted

In the pairings of shoulders
upholding caskets
Lined with truths
and Fahrenheit ashes
Orwellian, Shakespearean
Burnt spines of
Silverstein, Hemingway and Twain

Volcanic gods of affected outrage
and querulous uniformity
demand the ink-blood of
Lewis, and Henkes, of Morrison, and
of dear, sweet Wilder

Condolences offered as delicacies
at the harrowed caricature
of reception
– wedding or wake?

Guests can’t sign the book
when the pages curl
in flames of offense licking
bindings of hypocrisy
The lines become empty
in the history of a past

so easily forgotten

-KJ Roe